I was just listening to a sermon by my friend Brian Albert who pastors the Calvary Baptist Church just across town. In his sermon he recounts how Jonathan Edwards was voted out of the church he pastored for 23 years. Yes, I'm talking about THE Jonathan Edwards who preached "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God". THE Jonathan Edwards who was used of God to help ignite the Great Awakening in the new colonies some 250 years ago. THE Jonathan Edwards who is widely acknowledged to be America's most important and original philosophical theologian. After 23 years, the church voted him out. Gotta love those congregational churches! (Sorry Brian, I couldn't resist!)
Anyways, and more importantly, Pastor Brian briefly alluded to the last sermon Edwards preached before leaving the church thus whetting my appetite to read the whole sermon, which I just did. You can read it here. I was struck by the final words Pastor Edwards spoke to the flock he loved very much:
Christ did once commit the care of your souls to me as your minister; and you know, dear children, how I have instructed you, and warned you from time to time. You know how I have often called you together for that end, and some of you, sometimes, have seemed to be affected with what I have said to you. But I am afraid it has had no saving effect as to many of you, but that you remain still in an unconverted condition, without any real saving work wrought in your souls, convincing you thoroughly of your sin and misery, causing you to see the great evil of sin, and to mourn for it, and hate it above all things, and giving you a sense of the excellency of the Lord Jesus Christ, bringing you with all your hearts to cleave to him as your Savior, weaning your hearts from the world, and causing you to love God above all, and to delight in holiness more than in all the pleasant things of this earth. And I must now leave you in a miserable condition, having no interest in Christ, and so under the awful displeasure and anger of God, and in danger of going down to the pit of eternal misery. — Now I must bid you farewell. I must leave you in the hands of God. I can do no more for you than to pray for you. Only I desire you not to forget, but often think of the counsels and warnings I have given you, and the endeavors I have used, that your souls might be saved from everlasting destruction.
Wow. Powerful words.